Article

Is Your DMS An Asset To Your Dealership?

August 2006, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive

by Jeff Smelley - Also by this author

A quality Dealership Management System is more than just a means of tracking income and expenses tied to a sales front-end program. A DMS is an infrastructure investment which, when properly selected, installed and used, will provide the means to manage and grow your business, increase profits, improve employee productivity, provide security and freedom. If you are not getting these benefits from your DMS, then you should.

Workload should be properly distributed to each function throughout the dealership so that information may be entered once at the point of origin, be verified and then be immediately available elsewhere in the dealership as required. This important feature reduces the opportunity for a person to manipulate the system in order to hide embezzlement. Single entry improves employee effectiveness by eliminating redundant work. After all, why pay for something to be done multiple times when once will do? Your system should facilitate each person’s job, assisting the lesser-experienced person while not impeding the very experienced employee. Checkpoints throughout each process should encourage accuracy and thought, allowing each person involved to develop a more productive understanding of their respective job and an appreciation for results. No system can replace a conscientious and knowledgeable staff, but a good system will make each person a more valuable dealership asset, increasing job satisfaction and reducing turnover.

The effectiveness of management is directly related to the information available. With timely and accurate information, management has the tools to review the needs and performance of the dealership. Whether their questions originate from dealer groups, trade organizations or personal perceptive observation, managers should be able to quantify good or bad performance and take corrective action when needed. Knowing, quantitatively, when performance meets expectations will allow managers the freedom to tackle other areas.
We install anti-theft systems, alarm systems and locks in the physical facilities in a dealership and often leave the information unguarded. Providing security for your information is a fundamental function of a DMS. Information should be available to those who need it but not be available for prying eyes. Compliance with Privacy Act requirements is essential in protecting your dealership. Proper attention should be made to prevent your confidential information from being hacked into by internet intruders.
 
The role of a DMS is not to think for you or to make decisions but rather to provide insightful answers to pertinent questions you should be asking about your business. Can you measure your progress toward your goals of increased profits, better operational effectiveness, greater equity and an improved financial position? The answers to these questions can be found only IN YOUR dealership. No other dealership has the exactly the same situation and challenges that are present in your dealership. You are unique. Make sure your DMS is robust enough to accommodate your unique needs.
 
Many things, the least of which is price, can measure the quality of your DMS. Does it provide the controls you require, the performance measuring ability, the integration? While it is true that you get what you pay for, look closely at what you expect from your system. If your expectations are low, then go for the ultra low price - your expectations are definitely in the expense category. If your expectations are high, then look at the flexibility of the software, hardware and most importantly the vendor.
Looking for solid features, tighter controls and the cooperation of your vendor will cost you more, but the payback is well worth it. If you were to measure the cost of an inadequate DMS, in lost opportunities and inaccurate information, then you would find that the expense is far greater than the investment required for a quality system. Big price tags don’t necessarily indicate a big payback. Bargains do exist when you shop for a DMS, but expect to pay a fair price for a quality system, training and support and expect to have a vendor that is a partner in your business success. Expecting these things will lead you to make a different decision about which system and which vendor you wish to do invest in. Your management, your staff and your vendor will determine whether your Dealer Management System is an asset or an expense, choose each well.
 
Vol 2, Issue 7

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